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story.lead_photo.caption President Donald Trump and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein talk Wednesday after a round-table discussion on the MS-13 gang in Bethpage, N.Y. Trump and Rosenstein, a frequent target of the president’s anger over the Russia investigation, appeared on good terms during the session.

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump asserted Wednesday that the FBI's use of a confidential source to seek information from his campaign aides was gaining steam as a scandal and that lawmakers would soon realize that "a lot of bad things happened."

In a series of morning tweets, and later speaking to reporters, Trump assailed what he called "spygate," claiming that it could become "one of the biggest political scandals in history!"

The comments were Trump's latest salvo over reports that the FBI used a confidential source in its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

There is no evidence to suggest that the source was inserted into the Trump campaign, as the president has suggested, but the source did seek out and meet Trump campaign advisers.

On Twitter, Trump suggested that the tables had turned on those investigating his campaign over possible collusion with Russia, writing: "What goes around, comes around!"

The president referred to those investigating him as the "Criminal Deep State," claiming they had been "caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before!"

As he departed the White House early Wednesday afternoon en route to an event in New York, Trump told reporters: "I hope it's not true, but it looks like it is."

The FBI source, longtime Republican and former University of Cambridge professor Stefan Halper, had contact with at least three advisers to Trump during the campaign. Trump and his allies have sought to cast that as inappropriate political spying.

In his tweets, Trump also quoted Andrew Napolitano, a former New Jersey Superior Court judge and frequent Fox News commentator, saying that "it's clear that they had eyes and ears all over the Trump campaign." Napolitano appeared on Fox & Friends earlier Wednesday morning.

Trump and his aides have derisively used the term "deep state" to refer to long-serving, unelected officials who they claim are out to undermine his presidency.

During a television appearance Tuesday, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper Jr. said the FBI never spied on the Trump campaign.

"They were not. They were spying -- a term I don't particularly like -- on what the Russians were doing," Clapper said during an appearance on ABCs The View to promote a new book.

The FBI, Clapper said, was simply trying to answer the question, "Were the Russians infiltrating, trying to gain access, trying to gain leverage and influence?"

In a later tweet Wednesday morning, Trump took issue with Clapper's assessment that the then-GOP nominee should have been grateful for the FBI's surveillance.

"No, James R. Clapper Jr., I am not happy," Trump wrote. "Spying on a campaign would be illegal, and a scandal to boot!"

'BAD THINGS HAPPENED'

The use of the confidential source has been at the fore of Trump and conservative lawmakers' feud with the Justice Department and special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into whether Trump's campaign coordinated with Russia during the campaign.

On Tuesday, the White House said two Republican lawmakers will be allowed to review classified information about the FBI source during a meeting today with intelligence officials. The Justice Department had resisted sharing information, saying it jeopardized the source.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Trump said he expects "total transparency" from Justice Department officials. "What I want is I want total transparency," he said. "You have to have transparency."

Trump said lawmakers will probably be troubled once they see documents regarding the use of the source.

"When they look at the documents, I think people are going to see a lot of bad things happened," Trump said.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes of California and Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina were the only two Republican lawmakers invited to today's meeting. Administration officials attending include FBI Director Christopher Wray, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Ed O'Callaghan.

After Democratic complaints and negotiations that went into the late evening Wednesday, the White House said it would also give a second briefing to a group of lawmakers known as the "Gang of Eight" immediately after the briefing for the two House Republicans. The "Gang of Eight" is composed of the top Republicans and Democrats in each chamber and the top Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees.

According to the Justice Department, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein were also added to the roster after not being included on the original list.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said earlier Wednesday that he and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., planned to send a letter to Wray and Rosenstein requesting that they reconsider meeting with the two GOP lawmakers. If a meeting takes place, Schumer said, it should include a broader, bipartisan group of lawmakers.

On the Republican side, a trio of senators had asked the White House to also be allowed to attend the meeting.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley of Iowa, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas made the request in a letter dated Tuesday to Rosenstein and Kelly.

Grassley has been spearheading his committee's investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 campaign. Graham and Cornyn are also members of the Judiciary Committee.

Nunes, an ardent Trump supporter, originally demanded the information on an FBI source in the Russia investigation.

Former FBI Director James Comey stood up for the bureau against Trump's claims Wednesday, saying in a tweet: "Facts matter. The FBI's use of Confidential Human Sources (the actual term) is tightly regulated and essential to protecting the country. Attacks on the FBI and lying about its work will do lasting damage to our country. How will Republicans explain this to their grandchildren?"

Later in the day, though, Trump said it was Comey who lied. And the president said his efforts to learn more about the informant were not undercutting the work of the Justice Department.

"We're cleaning everything up," Trump said, speaking to reporters before he boarded Marine One on his way to Joint Base Andrews. "What I'm doing is a service to this country."

He said he did the country a service when he fired Comey, as well.

"If you look at the lies, the tremendous lies, if you look at all that's going on, I think James Comey's got a lot of problems," Trump said.

The Russia probe apparently remained on Trump's mind a couple of hours after his initial tweets Wednesday.

Shortly after 8:30 a.m. Central time, he fired off a two-word message in all capital letters: "WITCH HUNT!"

GIULIANI SHIFTS

Also Wednesday, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani switched gears, saying he would prefer the president grant an interview to Mueller's office and that a decision would be made within "the next couple weeks."

"I guess I'd rather do the interview. It gets it over with it, it makes my client happy," he said. "The safe course you hear every lawyer say is don't do the interview, and that's easy to say in the abstract. That's much harder when you have a client who is the president of the United States and wants to be interviewed."

Giuliani had expressed skepticism in recent days about an interview with the special counsel's team, telling the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that his decision would be no if a decision had to be made immediately.

"If they said, you have to do it now, the answer would have to be no," Giuliani told the Journal.

In Wednesday morning's interview with The Washington Post, he said the president sometimes seesaws on whether he wants to do an interview.

"There have been a few days where he says, 'Maybe you guys are right,'" Giuliani said, referring to his lawyers who have warned against an interview. "Then he goes right back to, 'Why shouldn't I?'"

Giuliani said he was concerned that the president would become a target or that the interview would be a perjury trap because the "truth is relative." The president's legal team continues to try to set limitations on an interview, including the duration and questions posed, he said.

"They may have a different version of the truth than we do," Giuliani said.

Many of Trump's advisers have expressed concern that he would be accused of committing perjury in an interview.

The former New York mayor said he was handling much of the public-facing role for Trump's legal team, while Jane and Martin Raskin -- two new Florida lawyers on the team -- are reviewing facts and interacting with Mueller's office.

Giuliani also said new White House lawyer Emmet Flood was preparing a series of memos explaining how the office could fight a subpoena to testify or to challenge any intent to indict the president.

Information for this article was contributed by John Wagner, Josh Dawsey, Seung Min Kim and Karoun Demirjian of The Washington Post; by Eileen Sullivan of The New York Times; and by Mary Clare Jalonick, Jonathan Lemire, Anne Flaherty, Chad Day, Desmond Butler, Jill Colvin, Eric Tucker and Darlene Superville of The Associated Press.

A Section on 05/24/2018

Print Headline: Campaign spy puts FBI in snare, Trump insists

Comments

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  • RBear
    May 24, 2018 at 6:18 a.m.

    "The president referred to those investigating him as the "Criminal Deep State," claiming they had been 'caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before!'" BS. This president must live is the most altered state of reality of any I've ever seen. A very disturbed individual who is not mentally stable, much like some of his supporters.
    ...
    The fact he can't differentiate between a spy and an informant is insane. There IS a difference. The professor was not "embedded" in the campaign organization. He made contact with individuals who were in contact with Russian individuals under suspicion. It is the job of the FBI to make sure our country and its elections are not influenced by foreign operatives.
    ...
    The fact the House has to have separate intelligence briefings BECAUSE Trump's lapdog, Devin Nunes, forced House leadership to request a briefing of hopefully the same material. Nunes is one of the biggest jokes of a congressman on the Hill.

  • TimberTopper
    May 24, 2018 at 6:18 a.m.

    This dictator wanna be is without a doubt the worse POTUS in our country's history. He has no regard for the rule of law, as he has always believed himself to be above the law. His day to cry unfair is coming. Mr. Mueller, just continue to do your work, on behalf of America.

  • BOLTAR
    May 24, 2018 at 8:37 a.m.

    Starr's report claiming obstruction of justice by Clinton cited as evidence actions taken in resistance to the prosecutor that were much less egregious than these outrageous actions by Trump. Others best beware, or they may well fall into the hole they are helping Trump dig.

  • PopMom
    May 24, 2018 at 9:38 a.m.

    The "spy" no doubt was a patriotic American who alerted the DOJ that the campaign was colluding with the Russians. Trump thinks that he is a king and anybody who opposes his criminal behavior is himself a criminal. I can't wait for him to be impeached.

  • glh05230944
    May 24, 2018 at 9:47 a.m.

    The professor is the informant. The Russian Agent of interest, aka our perverted potus, is the spy in this particular case.

  • Packman
    May 24, 2018 at 10:49 a.m.

    So, covertly collecting information on private citizens and the opposition party and transmitting the information back to the party in power isn't spying. Sure, libs, you run with that. Donald Trump may very well win in a landslide in 2020.
    .
    Richard Nixon resigned for trying yet failing to spy on the opposition party. The Obama Administration actually succeeded in spying on the opposition party. Let that sink in for a minute.
    .
    Borrowed from unknown source: SPYGATE - There was no spy. The spying that did not happen was totally justified because an informant isn't a spy because a spy isn't an informant, and water isn't wet. It would damage national security to identify the spy that doesn't exist. The spy's name is Stefan Halper and he's a college professor from Cambridge.
    .
    Popcorn. Need more popcorn!

  • TimberTopper
    May 24, 2018 at 11:05 a.m.

    Packy, you may choke on your popcorn. Judging by your mindset gruel would be safer for you to try and swallow.

  • RBear
    May 24, 2018 at 11:25 a.m.

    "So, covertly collecting information on private citizens and the opposition party and transmitting the information back to the party in power isn't spying." Nope, because it was not done for political purposes nor was anything transmitted back to the opposition party. I know you'll never believe that, but you usually don't follow logic. I mean, you blow off the Russian infiltration of social networks or election divisions as unfounded. Typical Trump demographic.
    ...
    BTW, you're pretty predictable. Trump goes BSC and then you go BSC in these boards. But hey, you're an "independent thinker."

  • mozarky2
    May 24, 2018 at 12:08 p.m.

    RBear, you truly are Captain Oblivious...

  • BOLTAR
    May 24, 2018 at 12:20 p.m.

    RBear, your quote from the anonymous troll may have been taken out of context. He appears to be alluding to Trump's effort to gather data on the civilian informant for the FBI in order to share it with the Republicans in power in an effort to win reelection.

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